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Mini Transat : A Colour Code For Departure
In the absence of an opening in the next forty-eight hours, the race committee has decided to bring the Mini fleet back into Port Rhu where there are far more comfortable facilities to endure the wait. Yesterday's proposal to rally in Gijon before passing Cape Finisterre is temporarily abandoned. Finally, a color-coded system for all those interested in the race has been set up to warn of the possibility of imminent departure.

To understand the situation, imagine the dividing line from the Bretton penninsular to Cape Finisterre. This highway is, for the moment, being swept by the western margin of the strong to very strong southwesterly winds. Inshore of that line the conditions are much more manageable, but it is a potential trap for competitors who may be at risk of being caught in the bay and not being able to get out. At the moment the winds are particularly strong between the Ortegal peninsula and Cape Finisterre, where gusts of over 50 knots are expected in the coming days.

The Gijon option
This situation has led the race committee not to activate the option of a stopover in Gijon. Given current projections, the risk was too great that the fleet would find itself stuck in the Asturian port, unable to safely navigate the 180 miles separating Gijon and the tip of Galicia in the face of strong winds from the west. This option can be activated only if the Spanish stopover permitted a maximum wait of two to three days before crossing the tip of Spain. The race director does not discount any options, in the interests of the competitors.

The organisers have decided to implement a colour code to anticipate future decisions.

Code Red : no departure is planned in the next 36 hours.

Code Orange : there is the possibility of a start in the next 36 hours.

Green Code: there is the possibility of a start in the next 24 hours.

The objective is to provide the best possible information to the press and the public who are following the Mini Transat. Tonight at the competitors' briefing, the race director announced the introduction of the colour code system that will be found on the website .

* Editor: Headline on the site's English version for an article on Monday reads "Reflections on the dipstick". Words fail me.

Moth Worlds
Photo by Thierry Martinez, Click on image to enlarge.

Moth Worlds Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, USA: A rare October appearance of unstable weather conditions has sent shockwaves through the fleet on the eve of the 2013 McDougall + Maconaghy Moth World Championship, where 80 of the world's fastest dinghy sailors from 15 nations are making final preparations for the prestigious event. Renowned sailing meteorologist Chris Bedford believes they may have some spare time ahead. "An upper low continues to move away from the Hawaiian Islands, but the associated upper trough and high cloud remains over the islands," Bedford said. The trough will keep the subtropical ridge to the North weak, and he expects the usually reliable trade winds to remain sluggish "at least through midweek, and possibly through the end of the week."

Dozens of sailors spent Sunday cutting, shaping, sanding, polishing, and otherwise modifying their boats' foils to optimize them for the expected light winds.

Britain's Rob Greenhalgh drew first blood on the course, taking the easy victory in Sunday's single practice race.

An 8-knot easterly breeze swept through Kaneohe Bay just after noon today, providing a glimmer of hope for day one of the 2013 McDougall + McConaghy Moth World Championship fleet despite a dire forecast. With conditions forecast to build slightly throughout the day, Race Officer Tom Pochoreva and his Kaneohe Yacht Club-based team jumped on the chance for a solid race between two squalls shortly after 1230 PM. "The fleet was foiling around and sailing fast for a while, but when the wind started to die we realized we couldn't get a fair race in and we pulled the plug," said Pochoreva. "Things are looking better and better for the rest of the week, and we're looking forward to some great action tomorrow."

Southworth Clinches Record 6th J24 Europeans Title
Britain's Ian Southworth and the crew of Il Riccio, have clinched a record-breaking sixth J24 Europeans title from two former World Champions and four other past European Champions in a 67 boat fleet ,in a challenging series hosted by Yacht Club de Monaco. With most races sub seven knots, competitors had to adjust to the effect of wind-blown tide, shifts of 30 degrees and complete breeze shut-downs. With depths of 200-300 metres across the race area, mark positioning and start-line holding added to the challenges.

Racing from the Yacht Club de Monaco, twenty years after it first held the J24 Europeans, sailors from Germany, Italy , Hungary, Monaco, Great Britain, France and Greece were joined by North American J24 ace, Mike Ingham and by four times World Champion, Mauricio Santa Cruz of Brazil. Former Italian World Champion, Andrea Casale led a serious challenge in Kong Easynet, with the Italian Navy team of La Superba, helmed by past European Champion, Ignazio Bonnano, pushing to improve their 8th place at the 2013 Worlds in Howth. German hopes were led by former European Champion, Peer Kock

The predominately light airs series presented multiple challenges both for the race crews and for the Race committee, led by Race Officer, John Coveney.

The il Riccio team used a 1996, J Boats Italy hull, race prepared by David Heritage in Cowes and Sparloft New Zealand rig. Sails were the same as the Howth Worlds, but with a change of genoa design to test the North San Diego, Tim Healey modification.

The womens' Europeans trophy was won by Germany's Ragna Thoennessen from Altona Yacht Club and her crew on Juelssand ,from Lea-Katrina Witt and the Hamburg German crew of Alice and Francesca Guzzo and her Monaco team, sailing Cool J.

Final top fiveL

1. Chris MacLaughlin (Il Riccio), GBR, 23 points
2. Mauricio Santacruz (Bruschetta), BRA, 49
3. Ian Ilsley (St Andrews Securities), MON, 51
4. Ignacio Bonanno (La Superba), ITA, 66
5. Dimitris Altsiadis (Evniki), GRE, 78

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Sprint To Auckland
"Looks like survival on the first night," said Team Australia skipper Sean Langman on the eve of their Sydney to Auckland record run.

Tomorrow's departure time is creeping forward for the giant ORMA 60 trimaran so the six man crew can stack the weight aft and get a head start on the seaway due to build to 3-5m with the fresh north-west winds. An early afternoon exit from Sydney Heads is now being discussed.

"If they keep good pace Team Australia will hopefully be ahead of the biggest waves and should only have 2-3m waves to contend with," said Roger 'Clouds' Badham who is routing the attempt. "Slower and they will have more waves, faster and there will be less."

An earlier than planned departure from the harbour eases another concern for the crew, striking a whale or other large submerged sea creature or object at speed.

"If we get going in daylight we can get across the whale migration path off the east Australian coast," says Langman, who has come a cropper in ocean races with other boats.

It will be a record run of contrasts with the maximum breeze of NW winds 30-35 knots and gusts to 40 due midnight the first night, Wednesday 16th October. The nor'wester is forecast to ease back to the low 20's the next morning and to the mid-teens in the eastern part of the Tasman Sea, and unfortunately down to 7-10 kts on the east coast of New Zealand.

Langman says an ETA of three days is still realistic.

There is no sanctioned world mark for the 1,260nm stretch of ocean. Team Australia only has to complete its planned route and be verified by the World Sailing Speed Record Council's black box and attending commissioners of record to be added to the register of course records.

The 60-foot trimaran already holds the Sydney to Hobart passage record and other Northern Hemisphere records from its days as the French-owned Banque Populaire V.

Australian WSSRC commissioner of record Brian Hayden will oversee tomorrow's start from a set of bearings between North and South Head, Sydney Harbour.

From Isle Of Wight To Hamilton Island
Ireland's first multi-hull, the Simon & Jude of 1663, was re-created by Hal Sisk in 1991 to re-stage her initial race when she comfortably outsailed a ship's gig, re-enacted here by one of the Bantry boats. Photo by W M Nixon. Click on image to enlarge.

Irish Multihull We signed off here on this sailing blog a fortnight ago with the admission that the sacredly monstrous America's Cup in its new form for the 34th Edition has got us hooked, as indicated by our own and general global interest in that key question: "What happens next?" That was Saturday September 28th. We didn't have long to wait. On Monday September 30th, it was announced that Hamilton Island Yacht Club of Australia has been accepted by cup holders Golden Gate Yacht Club as the Challenger of Record for the 35th America's Cup.

Hamilton what? Where island? Is it somewhere comparable to the Isle of Wight, where it all started way back in 1851 with the race round the island for the Hundred Guineas Cup? For once, we were ahead of the posse without having to go to google. Back in 2007, Gordon Maguire was signed up as lead helmsman on Mike Slade's 100ft Leopard for a serious tilt at the Fastnet Race record. But that was the year that the start was postponed for 25 hours because of a Force 9 sou'wester. And Maguire's window of opportunity to do the Fastnet was very narrow, as he was contracted to be at some event called Hamilton Island Race Week to skipper Matt Allen's Ichi Ban immediately afterwards.

He took a look at the new schedules, and reckoned the Fastnet start delay ruled him out, and flew out for Australia. But Leopard still broke the record. Yet all we can really remember about it now is it was the year Ger O'Rourke's Chieftain was Fastnet Race overall winner, and that this Hamilton Island place with its race week must have something very special going for it.

Five years down the line, it's more special than ever. Hamilton Island is owned by veteran campaigner Bob Oatley, a serial entrepreneur whose sailing credentials have been firmly established with a long string of boats called Wild Oats, with his current hundred footer Wild Oats XI holding the Sydney-Hobart Race record.

Far far more from WM Nixon, including a history of multihulls... Afloat magazine:

Lees Crowned Rya Youth National Match Racing Champion
Mark Lees and his crew of Tarra Gill-Taylor and Matt Wallis were this weekend (12-13 October) crowned RYA Youth National Match Racing Champions after seeing off the challenge of eight other teams at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing venue provided some great conditions for the nine teams to battle it out in the RYA's fleet of former Olympic class Elliot 6m boats. The sailors completed the full schedule of the round robin stage before going on to contest semi-finals and final in which Lees and his team needed all five races to book their berth in the 2013 RYA National Match Racing Grand Finals.

21-year-old Lees from Poole, who won the same event back in 2009 at Queen Mary Sailing Club and who finished on the podium in 2011 and 2012, was pleased with his win considering his team had never stepped in foot in a boat together before this weekend.

Final results:

1. Mark Lees, Tarra Gill-Taylor, Matt Wallis
2. Phillip Bendon, Chris Tiernan, Tommy Freeman
3. Jason Saints, Jordan Saints, Emily Nagel
4. Tom Harrison, Jonty Cook, Will Goldsmith
5. Andrew Wishart, Joe Stansfield, Alex Frankling
6. Matt Deacon, Smith Cameron Ho, Eddie Romano
7. Dan Stokes, Tom Piggott, Tom Cornthwaite
8. James Cunnison, Matt Goodburn, James Dewing
9. Nathan Howell, Henry Cross, Richard Stonehewer-Smith

Yachts Closing In On 300 Miles In A Day Record
The Clipper fleet is experiencing some big surf and waves with several yachts coming very close to the mark of racing 300 miles in a day.

The yachts are averaging 11 knots so far, and 300 miles in one day has never been achieved on the Clipper Race before.

Invest Africa has come closest so far, recording 273 miles in 24 hours, while current fleet leaders GREAT Britain recorded 269 miles.

The boats that are progressing further south are trying to get down to the Roaring Forties latitudes with their infamous big following seas and strong winds.

The most northerly boat, Jamaica Get All Right, is going for the Race 3 Scoring Gate in the hope of being first through the two waypoints and picking up three extra points. Skipper Pete Stirling plans to consider his options, weather wise afterwards.

Student Yachting World Cup
Pornic, France: The Student Yachting World Cup had been especially intense today. The weather condition was tiring for the crews as it has been raining all day. Still, France keeps a leap ahead in every race.

Yesterday, the French team dominated the races but got an OCS penalty in one windward leeward race. The final ranking of the first day was: The USA first (16 points), then France (2nd, 18 points) followed by Scotland (3rd, 20 points). The others' ranking was Ireland(4th), Switzerland ( 5th), Australia ( 6th), England (7th), Belgium (8th), Defender (9th), Norway (10th), X-HEC (11th), Japan (12th),Germany (13th), China (14th).

As the weather condition was not as good as yesterday, the first windward leeward race was the occasion to show how strong the crews were. Switzerland first dominated the race but had trouble in the third round, they finished fifth. The leader of yesterday, France proved the former victories were not a blow dealt by fate. They eventually won this race. Belgium and Australia were side by side but the latter had been faster to set the spinnaker in the last round and finished second.

Today has been a thrilling day of races. Weather conditions were tough and the teams came back to the harbour exhausted. France proved they will be strong competitors and got the top position on the podium. -- Michalis Pateniotis,

Event site:

Rare Oarfish Found In California
A California marine instructor's leisurely weekend snorkel turned into the discovery of a lifetime when she found the carcass of a massive, eel-like creature of a species thought to have inspired legends of giant sea serpents.

Catalina Island Marine Institute instructor Jasmine Santana spotted the 18-foot (5.5-meter) oarfish, which is as thick as a man's torso, while snorkeling in clear waters off the island's coast on Sunday afternoon, the institute said.

The creatures are found in all temperate to tropical waters, but because they dive to depths of 3,000 feet (915 meters), they are rarely seen and remain largely unstudied. Little is known about their behavior, the nonprofit educational institute said.

Oarfish have a pug face, a crest running the length of their bodies and a skeleton of bone rather than cartilage common to fish species like sharks. They can grow up to a length of 56 feet (17 meters). Because of their strange appearance, they are believed to have inspired legends of giant sea serpents.

Letters To The Editor -
Letters are limited to 350 words. No personal attacks are permitted. We do require your name but your email address will not be published without your permission.

* From Daniel Charles: Re: Kiwis shoestring America's Cup budget: The Kiwis employed nearly as many people than Oracle, built as many boats, sailed them more days than anybody, employed about the same number of people. How did that did it so much cheaper than the Ugly Americans? Answer: They didn't, but presenting oneself as the underdog always work well with the press.

Re: Nationality: The fact that the deed of gift doesn't mention nationality is because the problem was not deemed to exist. The "manpower" was secondary in a class-ruled society (the pro crews were not members of the challenging or defending yacht clubs). This was a national contest between nations, and the boats represented the best of each nation. Such was the spirit of the competition. Today the crews receive more media coverage than the owners, the defending club has lost any power... Things are different now. Justifying our reality by "interpreting" the Donor's reality to fit ours is unproductive (as the 1987-88 legal episodes proved).

One last thing: John Barr captained Thistle, his brother Charlie kept his family with him in the US until his later years when he captained European yachts.

* From Euan Ross: At the risk of overexposure: My last letter concerning AC Nationality was in response to Daniel Charles' letter not Bob Fisher's subsequent arbitral. I would not presume to say "Just to be clear about this" to the doyen of America's Cup reporting! As young men racing quarter tonners against Bob in the 1970s, we were yarning about how our moderately successful crew from the Highland side of the Clyde Estuary was routinely ignored by the Lowland-based Scottish yachting correspondents. Bob promised to fix that for a pint, and so next day a marvellous account of our titanic battle on the windswept waters of Loch Fyne appeared prominently in the national press. Bob is now, perhaps, the principal chronicler of the post-war America's Cup. However, I am still waiting for him to turn his attention to the Little America's Cup as he is uniquely placed to comment; and an authoritative and complete account of that fascinating history has yet to be written.

* From Kim Klaka: Scuttlebutt Europe 2936 perpetuates the myth that the Commodores' Cup started in 1992. It did not; it started in 1978 when I took part in it. Even the RORC's own website (and Wikipedia of course) gets it wrong.

I understand the Cup was the very same one that is competed for today. There is a nice story about the inaugural event at

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The Last Word
Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself. -- Mark Twain

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